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A memorial Mass for Dr Manu in Toronto

Lloyd Rebeiro, Manu D’Cruz & Lillian Castelino

Melville Rebeiro. Vivianne Fonseca, Maura Lobo, Braz Menezes, 
Inocensia De Souza, Tony Fonseca, and Johnny Lobo

Patricia Rebeiro, Nikki DeSouza, and Charmaine Beltrame

A farewell to Dr. Manu D’Cruz
Even if you were a close friend, it is only after someone dies you hear something intimate about their lives for the first time. It was so last Saturday January 11, 2020, after a short memorial Mass at St Josephine Bakhita Parish in Mississauga for the late Dr. Manu D’Cruz, who passed away in Nairobi on November 22nd, 2019.

About fifty friends and relatives gathered to pay tribute to this Icon of the Kenya Goan Community. There were many Goan MDs in Kenya, but only one Dr. Manu D’Cruz, ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat, Consultant and Surgeon).

Canadian Johnny Lobo – Manu’s 92-year-old colleague and famed Kenyan Goan sportsman and Captain of the Nairobi Heroes Soccer Club, was a neighbour and childhood playmate of Manu. He retold the story of how Manu then aged about 2, was brought to their house by his panicked mother carrying him. His face was turning blue. She was crying for help. Johnny’s mother was crocheting on the verandah. She quickly examined the baby and saw a corn kernel was stuck in Manu’s nostril. She calmly reached for her crochet needle and slowly eased the kernel out. Manu’s blue face returned to brown, and over the years numerous friends and relatives kept repeating what they had heard of that miraculous event. Manu told him he was inspired by those stories to continue study about ears, noses and throats.

All speakers spoke highly of this amazing, unassuming man, who devoted himself to community and his Goan Gymkhana, and embraced all other communities with true Kenyan patriotism. He would be passionate about treating the sick and would travel miles to reach them. He was driven by his humanity and was a dedicated Rotarian. But most of all he cared for his extended family and their little ones, always stimulating them to explore new ideas, and serving as a role model especially to his nephews. There were memories to smile about.

One remembered he was a smoker, but never threw out the empty packs. He would collect these so when the nephews visited, they could spread them out on the floor and construct intricate models (predating Lego).

Freddy Mascarenhas, Dr Clara’s nephew, spoke lovingly of the special care Dr Manu showed to him and his family. Claude Fernandes recounted making a trip from Zanzibar to Nairobi in 1967 to undergo an ear operation, and his hearing is perfect to this date.

Lloyd Rebeiro’s favourite story was about the time they persuaded Dr Manu to park his old Toyota in the bus-storage parking area at St Mary’s School, where his mother was a teacher. He would sneak in and practice his driving alone. One day something nearly did go drastically wrong, when suddenly in the dusk, a student taking a shortcut, darted onto the road and Lloyd almost hit him. That student was the younger Uhuru Kenyatta (today’s President of Kenya).

Dr Manu’s kindness stretched to anyone who he saw as needing support. Jonas Noronha thanked him for his encouragement when at the start of his career, he was trying to break into the pharmaceutical sales business.  To this generosity, I too can attest.
Dr Manu was about 11 years older than me. I had only heard his name from my dad, as a son of a fellow club member, sent to boarding school in India and he was going great guns and a god example for me. Manu spent a lifetime studying and only returned about 21 years later, after Edinburgh. My generation, Gerson Fonseca, Edgar DeSa, Felix and Victor Nazareth, and others, were now regulars at the Goan Gymkhana. Dr Manu, perched on a bar stool, would preside and lead us through discussions on many current events. He and I formed a close friendship as I believe he may have wanted to be an architect as well (after those cigarette pack creations). He was always encouraging me. And then one day his lovely wife Dr Clara arrived. For a while we saw a little less of him, until she too joined him regularly in the club.
Thank you, Dr. Clara, for sharing him so selflessly. On Boxing day 1967, my mother collapsed on the dance floor. Dr Manu immediately took charge and rushed her to the hospital and stayed with us until there was no further hope. Our relationship grew stronger over the next 10 years.

Thank you, dear friend, Dr Manu. You have earned a well-deserved rest.

In conclusion, I must add the Event was beautifully organised by Jerry Lobo and Claire Fonseca. The church is a new modern construction and very beautiful. The design is composed of three octagonal shaped buildings that are joined together by a narthex. In the 1800's, many of the people of Sudan lived in thatched huts and having three of these joined together indicate the shape of a flower. St Josephine Bakhita is often referred to as "The African Flower". She died in 1947 and was laid to rest in Italy.

NB. This note is a team effort by Braz Menezes assisted by Claire Fonseca, Jerry Lobo and  Lloyd Rebeiro.

Lloyd Rebeiro, Clara D’Cruz, Lillian Castelino, Manu D’Cruz

Braz Menezes, Maura and Johnny Lobo, Colleen D'Souza

Lloyd Reberio, Claire Fonseca, Lydia Saikali, Judy and Joshua

Xavier Carvalho, Jonas Noronha, Jerry Lobo and Claire Fonseca

Jeremy Lobo, Skylar Mascarenhas, Freddy Mascarenhas, Floyd Mascarenhas
Celine Lobo, Inocencia De Souza and Sarita De Souza

Braz Menezes and Johnny Lobo

ST Teresa's Boys' School St Pat's night

St Teresa's Boys' School... My dad John Gracias on guitar, Mr Gonsalves on mandolin and Piereson on guitar. Think there were few others. My brother's young classmates singing with Fr Hannan conducting. The masked singers were my cousin Lenny, Ligorio Gracias on accordion, Neville Pinheiro, Ashley Pinto, Ivore and I think Mike.

The fancy dressers included Christine Pinto and Celine as gypsies, Sally Ahluwalia as a Japanese lady, my brother Stan as a Tetrapack (that unforgettable milk carton), Neville Pinheiro as an invalid in bed, Ivor with a dummy for a dancing partner, and Estelle as a poodle among many others.

Thanks Melissa!

Inside stories by the wazee: Gerry Loughran (Nation 4 b)


Gerry Loughran

Some early Nation memories, scattered and fractured as they must be after nearly 70 years…

Arriving at Embakasi Airport early one morning in September 1960 after 18 hours aboard a Bristol Britannia airliner, the “Whispering Giant,” from London via Rome and Khartoum.
I was 25 and it was my first flight, indeed the first time I had been out of Britain. With me were Roy Anderson, a colleague from the subs’ desk at the Evening Chronicle in Newcastle upon Tyne, and his new wife, Betty.We were met by a lanky, dark-haired man with a cigarette-holder. This was Ron Jones, author of the Sunday Nation column, Keeping Up with Jones, where he was pictured with the iconic cigarette-holder. Jones’s highly popular column, about real people and the passing scene, made Ron widely recognisable and was arguably a major reason for the success of the new paper, then just six months old.
Craggy-faced and foul-mouthed editor John Bierman told me I would be sharing a flat, no ifs or buts, with Dave Price, the assistant sports editor, a Welshman and a great mimic.
I was unpacking my bags when the doorbell rang. I opened it and an elderly black man walked past me with a brush and began sweeping the parquet floor. I wondered if this was the house servant we had been promised, a certain Thomas, but the old man didn’t respond to my questions. Thankfully, Dave arrived. “Hujambo, Mzee,” he said cheerfully, “asante sana, bwana, mzuri, mzuri tu,” or words to that effect, and pressing some coins into the old fellow’s hand ushered him out of the door.
It wasn’t Thomas, he said, but a jobless domestic worker who thought we might employ him if he got in first. How sad, I thought. Thomas came the next day.
It’s the people you remember, isn’t it, always the people? To Jones, Bierman and Price, add Willie Harris, a feisty Scot poached from the East African Standard to be our first chief reporter. Other local hires included Kenya-born Dick Dawson, son of a settler farmer; Mike Harris, late of the Kenya police; the amiable South African photographer-writer John de Villiers, and Chhotu Karadia, the only non-white on the editorial staff.
There was one Aussie, David Barnett, and another who joined soon after, John Tidey. Most, however, were fresh out of Britain, young men in our twenties, ready for anything: Peter Moss, who took over as editor of the Sunday paper when the Daily Nation debuted, with me as his lone assistant; David Levine, a sports sub from Grimsby; laidback John Fairhall, later to join the Guardian, and sports editor Tom Clarke, who eventually occupied that same position with The Times of London. Beyond Kenya, editorial staffers included Tony Dunn running an office in Dar es Salaam, and Manning Blackwood, ditto in Kampala.

At the top of the tree was Michael Curtis, with Frank Pattrick as managing director and an ex-Royal Marine, Stan Denman, running the printing side. In an office of his own was Charles Hayes, a retired colonial officer who started the Kiswahili-language weekly, Taifa, which the Aga Khan bought as the foundation of what to become the Nation Media Group. Hayes’ business partner Althea Tebbutt also joined the Nation as advertising manager.

Wherever there’s a newspaper office, there’s bound to be a pub. In the Nation’s case, it was the Sans Chique, a bar and restaurant true to its name, just a beer bottle’s throw from the newspaper’s back door. Owned and run by an Italian, Fred Forno, a one-time steward on the White Star cruise line, and his formidable cockney wife, Helen, this was where the Nation’s regulars could be found.
The food was good, opening hours elastic and, most importantly, signing privileges were extended to the chosen few.
If it was not the Sans Chique, the favoured watering-place was the Press Club, on the ground floor of the Queen’s Hotel, where Nation and Standard staffers gathered without animosity, chatted, played liar dice and ate piles of grilled sausages with English mustard. Later, the Press Club moved to more salubrious quarters, the roof of the new Ambassadeurs Hotel.
There was also the beer garden at the Grosvenor Hotel, where the Nation parked its new arrivals until they found accommodation. Plus, of course, the Thorn Tree at the New Stanley Hotel, but that was for everyone, particularly tourists.
It was a tough beginning for the Daily Nation. The Sunday, with only the feeble settler-oriented Sunday Post as opposition, got off to a super-charged start on March 20, 1960. From an initial print order of 20,000 copies, circulation reached 35,000 in less than six months. By contrast, the daily sold only 13,000 copies of the launch issue on October 3 of the same year, partly because it came out on a Monday, thus carrying Sunday’s news and there is never much of that, wherever you are. Ranged against the widely distributed, long-established Standard, it took the daily more than five years to cross the 20,000-barrier.
An iconic figure and my boss for a few short years were Jack Beverley, who succeeded Peter Moss at the helm of the Sunday Nation and ran the paper with extraordinary vigour and a stream of new ideas. Jack had been assistant editor at the News Chronicle in London under Michael Curtis’s editorship. An ebullient Scot, he was always on the look-out for “specials,” reasons to produce one-offss to catch passing fancies and enhance Nation finances. One such was Forces Nation, a regular four-page pull-out, if memory serves me rightly, aimed at the substantial presence of British troops stationed in Kenya pre-independence.
The Ryvita story is perhaps the best-known about Beverley – when he used a close-up of that crispy comestible as a stand-in for the surface of the moon -- but what stands out for me was the Issue of November 24, 1963, on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The story broke late on Friday, November 22 and Beverley went into over-drive.
Emergency staff were called in, printing and circulation targets raised, then raised again, library staff set to digging in the files for anything and everything on the Kennedy clan, special features were commissioned, an editorial carefully crafted and the main story changed and updated from edition to edition as events streamed in from Dallas – the President was shot, rushed to hospital and finally declared dead. Those 24 hours were probably the saddest, certainly the most extraordinary of my career. Kenya’s independence came only 20 days later on December 12, but it followed a carefully prepared script and anyway since it happened on a weekday, it was a Daily Nation story.
And so farewell…  I completed two two-year tours with Nation Newspapers and in September 1964, I knew it was time to move on. Many of the original staffers had already left and company policy, drive, naturally and correctly, was to replace the Europeans in all departments, including editorial, with Kenyan Africans. I had loved my time in Nairobi, I believe I had extended my skills in a way I would not have done back home, and I had a feeling that somehow, sometime, I would be back. How true!

There was a farewell lunch at the Sans Chique where the Tuskers flowed, and everyone said nice things about me. Nicest of all was a remark by a little guy, a messenger, called Hassanali. He whispered to me, “Mr Gerry, you are a good man – better even than President Kennedy.” Of which there could be no higher praise.

Gerry has written the definitive history of the paper in Birth of a Nation -The Story of a newspaper in Kenya. Now available from          

Inside stories by the wazee: Bill Fairbairn (Nation 18)

Elsa and me

Shortly after joining the Daily Nation in Nairobi as a sub-editor in 1963, I sought the role of reporter assigned to meeting people to uncover news and writing it up rather than editing and headlining stories written by others.
I had missed out on seeing Britain's Prince Philip, a week earlier on Jamhuri Day, December 12, turn to Jomo Kenyatta in Independence Stadium when the Union Jack came down and before the Kenyan flag was raised, to ask Mzee: “Are you sure of this decision to break with British rule?”
The one-word answer from the imposing Kenyan leader, of course, was “Yes!”
I wanted out of my desk editing job at the Daily Nation because I longed to be out and about reporting rather than sitting around the desk, drinking tea, and editing other staff stories.
Opportunity knocked unexpectedly when I flew down to Mombasa for a short vacation. I learned that scenes for the British movie Born Free were being shot up the coast near Malindi. I arrived at the film scene hotel in time for dinner and after sitting down noticed principal actors Virginia McKenna and husband Bill Travers sitting at a corner table on the other side of the dining room. I knew I was onto something big for my newspaper if I could get the photograph I wanted.
Next morning, I found that Open Roads Film Company of London had barricaded the beach. They had laid wires into the sea at one end of the long, sandy beach. The other end was protected by cliffs. They did this to privatise the shooting of film scenes such as Elsa the lioness swimming to an islet a short distance from the beach. So, I hired an African fisherman to row me around the blocking wires to reach the tiny offshore islet that I understood Elsa would swim to. But the film company’s public relations officer had misled me. The swim I sought to photograph for my story was not being shot that day. The film crew had decided to do it the next day. I learned later that the public relations officer had phoned the Daily Nation office in Nairobi to affirm my photographic credentials and that the newspaper’s chief photographer had told him, quite rightly, that I was not one of the paper’s staff photographers.
I was not down heartened waiting in vain on the islet for Elsa to swim out to my camera. Frustrated, I asked the fisherman to row me to the beach and he did so. I sat down on the warm sand 25 metres from the shoreline. Hey, presto! Who, but Bill Travers, lion keeper George Adamson and Elsa, the lioness, came walking toward me on the shoreline. I clicked my camera as they approached then sliding nearer clicked a second time when they were abreast of me. Elsa’s ears pricked up. But I had a good usable photograph!
The next scene was never shown in the wonderful film Born Free and I can understand why. A fellow came running over the sand toward me like Anthony Quinn bearing down on Peter O’Toole in the film Lawrence of Arabia. Reaching me and regaining his breath, he exclaimed: “You ruined that scene for our film by trespassing on our beach!”
I said sorry and introduced myself as being from the Daily Nation newspaper adding that the beach was a public beach and I really had sought a photograph of Elsa the lioness swimming in the sea.
“What?” he demanded, with incredulity marking his face. “That’s the photograph we want for cinema billboards. Get the hell off our production area!”
He was no bigger than me so I retorted in kind: “You can go to hell! This is a public beach.” He was as mad as a March hare saying it was the film company's rented beach for the time being.
He pushed me with a pointed finger in the direction he wanted me to go. I resisted and safely laid down my camera. We wrestled for a short time. I was getting the better of him pinning his shoulders down in the sand when he toned down the argument. Fantastically, he offered me a photograph of Bill Travers shaving with the lion’s tail … if I would not bother production the next day by staying at the hotel. I laughed at the offer knowing I had a better photograph in my camera.
At that comical point, I decided that discretion was the better part of valour. I shook his hand saying it was a good offer and retreated with my camera outside the wire. There I bumped into George Adamson's wife Joy and told her of being herded off the beach.
“Oh, I know all too well what you are up against,” she remarked about Open Roads. They're not open at all. Jump into my car to my place and I’ll give you a story.”
It turned out that when we arrived at her house her story was a rant about her view that she should have been playing herself in the movie and not Virginia McKenna acting as she was the real woman who had trained Elsa,
even giving the lioness her name. All the while Joy's pet cheetah roamed around me giving me the creeps as I sat bolted in my chair while she made us cups of tea.
To this reporter's delight, Joy had more to complain about than her disdain at the very attractive Virginia McKenna playing the lead actor in contrast to Joy's not so attractive features. She got to the heart of her belief in being born free in the jungle. “What will Open Roads do with Elsa when they finish their film? Put her in a circus? They would not agree with my idea of training her back to the wildlife! They say she will be a danger jumping on cars and other stunts they had trained her to do for the film. Or else be killed in the bush as a tame lion.”
My story of Joy's misgivings and the photograph of Elsa on the beach appeared in the Daily Nation front page a few days later under a headline saying “Born Free lioness has never been more a prisoner.” This prompted a letter from the film company to the Nation publisher inviting news photographers to their camp in the Kenya Highlands.
I was not chosen to go since I was neither reporter nor photographer. I was a night shift desk editor hopefully awaiting a reporter's role that did not come about until a month later. The photographers assigned to the Open Road camp invitation took their pictures from inside a cage with four lions playing the different ages of Elsa outside the cage.
Nevertheless, I counted my article as a scoop that got me off the desk. I’m sure on account of it I was switched to reporting.
And what assignments they were every workday on a great Daily Nation newspaper in sunny Kenya! I travelled to President Jomo Kenyatta’s farm where they were holding to cover a party rally and there was told by Moses, an African photographer colleague, that he had chatted with Jomo's daughter Mary and that she wanted to meet me.
“If that happens, I'll buy you a beer,” I responded with a laugh. I had never encountered Mary who, Moses said, was aged 17. Her interest in me made me wonder if, in looks, she resembled her rugged father. And I wondered what his action would be if he crept up on me sniffing around with his daughter.
I was at home in my row cottage near Government House the following Saturday afternoon when, lo and behold, Mary came cycling along and knocked at my door. She was a lovely lass and I was fast smitten. Yet I had the sense to doubt that she and I could ever have a relationship. I had actually been baking scones the day she came so I put the kettle on and we enjoyed scones with strawberry jam. I next brought out my set of checkers and showed her a few games I knew.
When this beautiful girl or woman stood up and faced me, I did so want to kiss her. My courage deserted me while today, at age 84, I would have cast doubt aside. So, I suggested it was time she left for home or her father would come after both of us. She stayed another hour enjoying card games and more scones and strawberry jam.
Such was Mary’s romantic impression on me that at the Daily Nation editing desk a few days later I phoned Government House intending to ask her for a date. Guess who answered? Yes, Jomo! I was stricken silent when in his deep growly voice he demanded: “Who is this?” I thrust the phone down shaken to the core. I often regretted not asking permission to court his daughter perilous as it might have been for both of us as it turned out.
Moses actually had played a trick on me. As it turned out years later, this young lady was not Jomo Kenyatta's daughter at all. I have no idea who she really was.
To finish my story I also remember being one of only two whites on the Daily Nation cricket team fielding near the boundary of Kenya’s National Park when playing against the Aga Khan Club. I knew there were lions in the park. I also knew that the lions would have to be good jumpers to clear the strong fence between them and me and that I
was on the boundary because I was a good runner an attribute I certainly would have used for my life.
I was also a keen billiards player on occasion at the Aga Khan Club, having represented Scotland in the British Boys Billiards Championship in London when I was aged 15. In Kenya, I defeated the then East African billiards champion in a handicapped tournament and the result went into the Daily Nation.
I must say that I found the first two Africa-born black editors of the Nation extremely capable. Hilary Ng’weno and George Githii built for the future.
Note: Bill Fairbairn today is editor emeritus for the Riverview Park Review in Ottawa. His first full-time job, apart from work during World War II as a newsboy delivering papers in his home-town in Scotland, was apprentice printer and at the same time sports reporter starting at age 15 on the Jedburgh Gazette in Scotland.
Then consecutively came journalism on the Blyth News, the Derby Evening Telegraph, the Sheffield Telegraph, the Rhodesia Herald, the Northern News of Ndola, Zambia, the Daily Nation of Nairobi, the Sun (London), The Scotsman (Edinburgh). In Canada, he worked for a year as news editor for the Williams Lake Tribune in British Columbia, then journalism instructor at Cariboo College on the aboriginal reserve near Kamloops, the Montreal Star, Radio Canada International (CBC), the Montreal Gazette, Legion Magazine and for the past 19 years the Riverview Park Review.
Bill served two years National Service in the British infantry from 1953-1955 rising to corporal. He has published five books,
Run for freedom, the Printer's Devil, On the run in Africa and Newsboy – adventures from a life in journalism.

Inside stories by the wazee: Cyprian Fernandes (Nation 17)

I owe The Nation – everyone who worked in editorial, photographic, proofreading, the compositors, advertising, Karo and Peter the drivers – and everyone else at Nation House the greatest debt of my life. Thanks for giving me a journalistic life that has spanned nearly 60 years and like Johnny Walker still keeps on walking … for the moment at least.
While in Primary School, a visiting priest had given me a copy each of The Times and the Sydney Morning Herald. He had been impressed, he said, with my essays and my attention to detail. So why not, he asked, have a look at these and maybe one day you will write for a newspaper. I looked at the two papers and I thought they were pretty ugly things. Lots of words, black words, and very few pictures.
I was already an addicted reader, sometimes gobbling up two and three books a day (especially during the school hols). Although I did understand much of what I was reading in the papers, the priests’ words were to stick in my mind for the rest of my life. I decided very early in my life that if I was not going to be a journalist, then I was certainly going be a criminal lawyer or an investigator.
One day I was in complete shock. I was forced to leave school (I was wrongly accused of stealing altar wine and the headmaster wanted me to drop my pants he could cane my butt… many decades later he was exposed as a paedophile… so he chased me around the sofa, my mother watched with tears almost drowning her face, which was buried in her hands and held up by her upraised knees… so I said I am not guilty (“my father never asked me to drop my pants and I am not going to for you either), grabbed my mother’s arm and walked her out of school”). I was not quite 13. A job in a bank, in a warehouse, the Probation and Remand Service, later… I was standing in front of the mother of all reception dragons… Marina, at Nation House in Victoria Street, around the corner from the Khoja Mosque and the greatest samosa and bhaji café in the world, Ismailia Hotel. Anyway, after winning over Marina, somewhat, and winning a smile of sorts from the redhead who was John Bierman’s secretary, I was standing in front of the man himself. His hands were latched on the top crossbars of the partitioning.
Here’s how the “interview” went:
JB: So, you spoke to me on the phone and I told you to come for an interview?
CF: No.
JB: What was all that about with the two ladies?
CF: I lied.
JB: What do you mean?
CF: I am talking with you, aren’t I?
JB: You little… what do you want?
CF: I want to become a journalist.
JB: In what area?
CF: Police, Crime, Parliament, Politics, Courts, Council… I blurted more than I can ever remember. I was saved from collapsing to the floor by…
JB: Sorry I have nothing there.
CF: What have you got?
JB: I might have something in sport…
CF: I will take it…
JB: Just a minute, come with me.
He took me to see Tom Clarke the Sports Editor.
JB: Tom, I have got you the biggest conman I have met or a great future reporter.
The rest, as they say, is history. John Bierman never spoke to me again. He just watched and listened. I became a real pain in the butt because I was always asking Bill Harris and a pile of others more questions, and more questions. Harris actually took me under his wing for a short while before he left for the UK.
Tom Clarke: If God could have sent me a present for all the Christmases and birthdays to come and any other occasion all packed into one person, then it would have to have been Tom Clarke. Before I had no interaction socially or otherwise with too many white folks and I had never really known the difference between settler whites and blow-ins. Of course, like everybody black or brown I had been brainwashed by all that I heard growing up and it was not much good. And then to meet a bloke like TC and for him to be my teacher, well they ain’t ever invented a heaven like that.
While Tom really got me through the basics, to believe in myself and my skills, and do the risk assessments for every story (who said what, is it fair, is it true, who said, is backed up, is balanced, was I being true and fair and lot more, watch the match or race with the proverbial dozen eyes and make notes as you go along, don’t rely on your memory) but he was not there long enough for me to earn my first by-line. Tom had found love and was taking Meg home to the UK.

Tom Clarke, Boaz Omori and Seraphino Antao, the Perth Commonwealth Games double sprint gold medallist, three very important people in my life!

The by-line came after Brian Marsden had trained me like he was preparing a racehorse and when my big race came, I was raring to go: an Ethiopian (Luciano, I think) had broken his leg in an international match against Kenya and photographer Akhtar Hussein had the picture, with the leg clearly in two parts. Luciano did not speak much English but others in the team did and they helped me with the translation. Got it!
Thanks to Brian’s guidance I chased the Kenya Football Association and found that there was quite a lot of evidence that a lot of people were getting rich pretty quickly and not too honestly. The KFA banned me and I reported football from the stands. I also did analytical commentary for the Voice of Kenya in Swahili.
Most importantly, Brian helped me make my name in Hockey, Cricket, Athletics and I also reported on Golf, Boxing, Rugby and anything else that made a good few inches. Brian really made me into a reasonable investigative journalist.
Any time I went to Europe, I spent most of my time in Cologne, Germany, working at Deutsche Welle. Came in handy in the 1972 Munich Olympics. I was not even supposed to be there. The Olympic stadium was the finishing point of German government junket. Once I got there, no way was I going without watching the games. At first, the Chief Press Officer told me I did not have a chance in hell of getting a media pass. Later that afternoon, he watched me ask some probing questions at two press conferences at the end of which he stuck his arm around my shoulder and said something that went like this: Comenze wiz me and led me to the media registration where I had my photo taken and my pass handed to me for a whole bunch of sports.
Of course, all this was ripped to shreds and reduced to ashes, as the terrorists took hostages and then killed so many Israeli athletes and were then themselves killed in a bloody mess at Munich airport.
Well, I did earn a gold star during those 16 days or so: I became the first journalist in the world to gain access to the starting and finish track in the main stadium. I was able to interview all the winners, some of the fancied losers, and have everyone on my tape recorder … working for Deutsche Welle.
However, all the time I was in Sports, I yearned for the other side. While in Sport, I met people like Oginga Odinga, Tom Mboya, Jeremiah Nyagah, Daniel arap Moi (who was a teacher in the Rift Valley, a great supporter of athletics – he attended various athletics training courses conducted by Archie Evans at Jeanes School Kabete -- in their schools and Vice Chairman of the African and Arab Sports Association), Isaac Lugonzo, James Gichuru, Ngala Mwendwa, Ronald Ngala and many others I met around sports fields and at political meetings in and around Nairobi.
The first time I went across to News, David Barnett was the News Editor and a chap called Stack (I think) the Editor. They sacked me because I apparently got a caption wrong: Ford Consul Cortina (it should have been Consul Cortina, even though Ford made it). Henry Reuter took me on for his weekly publication but a few days later Brian Marsden came and took me back to The Nation.
The next time I went to News, Mike Chester was News Editor. He told me after a week or so that I was a renegade but his “best shotgun rider on any story.” I blossomed under his guidance and I matured when Boaz Omori took the helm.
All this time, though, Joe Rodrigues kept watching from the sidelines. We never discussed me, even during the regular evening beer after the first edition had been put to bed. It was to remain a ritual at the Lobster Pot while I was there until later 1974.
Allen Armstrong was another godsend. A delightful person, friend for life, I enjoyed being a journalist with him as Chief Sub-Editor. As I walked past him, I would hear quite audibly: 10 pars Skip, 12 pars Skip, couple of side pieces, or a couple of longish quotes. He never had any problems with my copy, never any rewrites, I am not suggesting the copy was perfect, just that he was a great sub.
With Chester and later Henry Gathigira I was fearless. The first murder house I visited was in Nairobi West where an Ismaili family, parents and two children, had been murdered. I was not afraid. During the Mau era, I had seen bodies hanging from the tall honeysuckle trees in Eastleigh. So, it was nothing to nick a white coat and wear into a mortuary, count the corpses and note their injuries, the number of bullet holes etc.
Next, I did a stint with the Sunday Nation where Jim Glencross and John Gardner let me write later edition stories, a frivolous column for the SN magazine and learn all about layout. We would review the night’s work at the Starlight Club with a couple of glasses of the amber stuff and in the company of that great host Robbie Armstrong. Miss that.
Before I left, I moved into Features and when I showed my first four-page effort to my chief critic Joe Rodrigues, he laughed a bit and said:” Wonders will never cease.”
In 1972, when I flew home from the Commonwealth Heads of Government in Singapore in the company of the former Uganda Prime Minister, Dr Milton Obote I was flying home with a world scoop, Joe said: “I will take that wonders comment back. You are a lucky bastard.” Compliment? Maybe! I had heard whispers but could not tie anything down firmly from Singapore. While I was in Hong Kong I learned of the coup and managed to get on the plane that was making a right turn to pick up the fallen president and his team.
Boaz Omori told me I was his roving correspondent, but he would never put it in writing. It was a unique set up. I briefed him on the stories I want to chase outside of Kenya and go the go ahead. I also “sold” the stories to the Jim Glencross of the Sunday Nation, Trevor Grundy of the Daily Nation and talked about stories with Joe Rodrigues at our regular evening beer at the Lobster Pot. I travelled the world. For a start, I was in Addis Ababa regularly to cover the Organisation for African Unity where I met most of the Foreign Ministers and some heads of state and other wannabe’s like the extremely quiet and gentle
Robert Mugabe … many doors to African states were open to me.
George Githii spoilt all that. Before I left for Canada, Features Editor Trevor Grundy and I drew up a brief on understanding the country that the Aga Khan was urging his Ismaili flock to leave for. Few Asians, if any, had thought of Canada for a new home. For a start there was all that ice and snow!! The information would also be important for other Asians heading in that direction as part of the mass exodus from Kenya, victims of Africanisation and Kenyanisation. When I came back and published the story, he told me I would never again write any story that he did not sanction. I knew that there was little future for me there because he had already offered the “foreign” jobs to Chege Mbitiru. Joe Kadhi tried to talk me out of it in front of Githii who reluctantly mumbled “he can stay.” Forget it. Trevor and I quit. His kind of dictatorship was unacceptable. For me there were other reasons why I needed to get myself and my family out of Kenya: someone had gone to my wife and told her that “there is a bullet with his name on it.”
 We left in four weeks.